Comcast Showing Signs of Getting It

Don’t under-estimate how much of a big deal this development is. Comcast, yes, the cable giant that everyone hates, is testing a method to deliver live television channels through the Internet rather than through a cable box.

Using the MIT campus as its proving ground, Comcast in coming months will try delivering TV channels using the same standard used to deliver data over the Internet, known as the Internet protocol, or IP.

Like other cable providers, Comcast currently delivers channels over less versatile digital television technology that sends the video in streams to set-top boxes and isn’t compatible with the Internet.

Comcast executives say the purpose of the switch is to deliver live TV service to any device that can connect to the Internet, as they attempt to one-up online video services that offer a relatively limited amount of content on demand, not live. The new IP architecture also allows Comcast to more easily update the look and feel of its guide and add features like the ability for users to access some content from the Web—like video from Facebook— through the Comcast interface.

“We want to deliver video everywhere people want to watch it,” said Comcast’s president of converged products Sam Schwartz in an interview. “We have to do a better job getting people to realize what they are paying us for.”

The only issue I would have with this is that last quote from Sam Schwartz. People know exactly what they are paying Comcast for. High-speed Internet and access to live television. Unfortunately, no one under 40 in their right mind wants a digital land line. Sorry. At the same time, the era of 500 crappy cable channels subsidizing the few people actually watch are coming to an end. People want the ability to pick and choose what shows they watch and when.

If a consumer doesn’t want to pay for the History Channel or the Gardening Channel or the Science Channel or the (Fill in the Blank of What Ever) Channel, they shouldn’t have to. And they won’t, so long as they can torrent the shows they want to watch, use a DVR, or check in a day or two later on Netflix/Hulu.

What Comcast has to do a better job of is delivering affordable services that people actually want.  That quotes leads me to believe that they just don’t quite get it yet.

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